Actually it rained last night. A lot of the snow is melting. But a lot of snow was there to begin with.
One of my periodic tasks here is to keep the kerosene heater in the boathouse (the lowest level of the house – it’s integrated to the “shop” which is the house’s basement) filled so that it can keep the boathouse’s interior temperature above freezing. This is important because the house’s water supply (and the main filters for it) run through the boathouse, given it’s the oldest part of the house. It is also uninsulated and has metal siding, meaning it loses heat rapidly when unheated and is likely quite inefficient to keep warm.
The kerosene heater has a 1 or 2 gallon tank, that needs to be removed and filled once a day when it’s not too cold. But as it gets colder (it’s 15° F / -10° C as I write this) this needs to be refilled more frequently. There is a 5 gallon plastic container for the kerosene, stored near the heater in the shop, which is in turn filled from the large outdoor storage tank. So I sometimes go to the storage tank and get a refill.
The kerosene heater is efficient, but it strikes me as impractical in this setting because although it burns kerosene, it has an electrical control that renders it useless if there is no power. In an extended power outage, it could not be used to heat the boathouse.
If I were to propose any single major project to Arthur to improve his house, it would be to figure out how to get the boathouse insulated. The spray-on insulation he used on the similar “kitchen shed” works well, but it was a nightmare to apply originally and for many years it was outgassing hazardous chemicals. The latter is not something Arthur ever cared about, but I’d rather not repeat that. I reckon the best insulation strategy for the boathouse would be some kind if inner frame (of wood or plastic) built within the boathouse walls, which could hold foam insulation or fiberglass and have some kind of outside layer – plywood or sheetrock, etc.
I had a quite difficult and disappointing day. No major disaster. But a lot of work, and farther behind than when the day started.
As background – we have received a great deal of snow over the past week.
I had decided to go to town this morning. Somehow since coming back up here after Thanksgiving, I moved “go to town day” from Thursday to Friday. The reason Arthur goes on Thursday is because there is a senior discount at the grocery on Thursdays. The store is often a bit crowded. Since I’m not eligible for the discount, I don’t feel constrained to Thursday. Thus Friday became the day.
I was out the door early, by 8 AM. But that’s because a lot of snow has fallen since I last drove to town. At least a foot, perhaps more.
I spent time shoveling the stairs to the driveway and parts of the driveway.
I felt smart, because I decided to just go ahead and put the chains on. That’s a big hassle, but the road hadn’t been well plowed. I shoveled some of the way in front of the car. But I figured with the chains and a running start I could make it up the rest of the driveway through the snow to the road.
That might have worked, except apparently I did a lousy job putting on the chains – they both got off the tires and next thing I know I was going sideways.
Arthur has a pile of scrap sheet metal (really leftover steel siding from his quonset-style sheds he built) piled alongside the east side of the driveway. And the car ended up more or less on top of that. I was good and stuck.
I had to jack up the car to take off the chains – they were trapped under the tires.
I had to dig out and move all the sheet metal from under the car, as well as some plastic culvert – which fortunately wasn’t damaged.
And I was working on how to get the chains back on when an angel driving a road grader (to plow the road) came by. Pat, who lives at around 10.5 mile, in every way an archetypal sweet grandma, happens to drive a road grader, and does so of her own sweet goodwill to support the south-of-the-inlet community.
Pat had some chains on the grader, which we attached to the front of the Blueberry to extract it from its dilemma. It took a few tries to get the right angle to pull it onto the road rather than throw it down Dean’s driveway – the snow was very slippery and the driveway is steeper than it looks.
Once the Blueberry was on the road – now just graded (plowed) – Pat went on her way and I made the decision to not try to clear the driveway to Art’s place – it was steep with mud and snow now pushed up in banks by the spinning wheels. It was a mess. Instead, I went over to the west lot (73) – the new driveway Richard made last spring – and shoveled out a nice, flat, road-level parking space for the Blueberry. And there she will stay, until I get super ambitious and shovel out the existing driveway, or until some of the snow melts. But at the moment, it’s snowing more.
It was almost noon by the time I got the Blueberry parked in its new spot. I decided not to go into town. Pat was grading the road, but it was still snowing. I expected the road to be treacherous at points into town. And I’m not in dire straights.
An adventure. But not good for my sense of self-confidence or self-sufficiency.
Stuck against the pile of sheet metal.
Chains trapped under the tire.
Retrieving the chains using the jack.
Angel with a road grader.
A new parking spot excavated on the west lot.
The philosopher Justin E.H. Smith asks, in his blog, Do Trees Exist?
In my opinion, Smith is one of the best writers on the internet right now.
It can be interesting seeing the shifts in weather. These shifts seem more noticeable when it gets colder. I think it has to do with a change from the monotonic and endless fronts of Pacific rain to the colder continental airmasses that sometimes make it out this far.
Yesterday, I happened to capture this with a series of pictures from the deck looking north toward the mountain across the water.
I’m trying to make a habit of once a month, around the beginning of that month, to go and check the GDC (RV). I run the engine for 30 minutes, with the heater full blast, to heat things up inside. I start and run the generator for while to make sure it still works. I check the inside and make sure no major mold or such is growing.
It was snowing pretty hard as I did that this morning.
A year’s worth of trees. More or less.
I was with Arthur visiting his brother, my other uncle, Alan, in Colorado. I found myself struck by the stark trees in the snowscape there, and decided to take pictures of trees.
Without regret, I present a tree, one year on.
I suppose some readers of this here blog thingy™ will feel that it’s a bit tedious and definitely lazy, all these trees. Where is the idiosyncratic, random content of old?
It still crops up, I guess. The character of the blog has evolved, over the years, there’s no denying. It’s more anodyne, now, in some respects. I’m sorry. I have come to appreciate the daily poems and trees as a way to ensure I get something posted every day, even when I’m uninspired. I lean on them as habits, to force a communication with a world that I otherwise would quickly neglect. Which is a way to say, “Sorry if the trees are boring, but they’re better than nothing at all, right?”
Have a happy new year.
The weather wants to turn to snow, but it’s being quite wonky in the transition. Some rain, some snow, some rain again.
The trees are at a loss how to respond, and I did not wish to photograph them in their disarray. Plus it was quite windy outside.
Here is a tree from the archives. Korea, July, 2014.
The last several weeks have been preternaturally warm, considering. It’s been in the mid to high 40’s (F) the last week or so. Plenty of rain, but that temperature range could be summer here.
This tree was trying to hide behind the broken, decaying body of its deceased elder.